Poulter is relishing the prospect of playing in The Open in his home country
Ian Poulter Excited For “Amazing Atmopshere” At Royal St George’s
Poulter was 17 years old and his older brother Danny drove the 200-mile return trip down from Hertfordshire.
“I only went to The Open once when I was growing up,” starts Poulter, now aged 45 and who makes his 19th start in The Open this week.
“We went to Royal St. George’s on a practice day, when you could get a little bit closer to the action.
“I followed Payne Stewart for a few holes. I also followed John Daly and a few of the Europeans but I was like a deer in headlights. I was like, ‘Wow, this is just incredible. I need a piece of this’.
“I got the same sensation when I went to the Ryder Cup at The Belfry. I didn’t get to many tournaments but they were enough to persuade me that this is what I wanted to do for a job.”
Poulter turned pro the following year, in 1994, and in 2000 made his playing debut in The Open on the Old Course, St. Andrews.
He’s come pretty close to lifting the Claret Jug too, most notably in 2008 at Royal Birkdale, when he finished as a late clubhouse leader before Padraig Harrington mounted a charge down the home stretch to win.
“There are not many greater situations to be in,” adds Poulter, “than to walk up that last hole in The Open with the grandstands full on both sides, to a standing ovation. That is a pretty impressive sight and a personal experience.
“I have had that a couple of times, when I was runner-up and when I finished third, and so I have felt that excitement and that adrenalin rush, and that is what you crave at the start of the week, to get into contention on the back nine on Sunday, so you can walk up that last hole and hopefully come out on top to enjoy it the best way.”
After two years of cancelled tournaments and events played without fans or in front of limited numbers, Poulter is particularly excited to play in front of a large home crowd this week.
“To have 32,000 fans a day at The Open is going to give an amazing atmosphere,” he says.
“We haven’t had that in the UK for so long. To have patriotic fans coming out to watch The Open in their thousands will be a wonderful experience for us as players, but even more so for the fans who are going to be able to enjoy The Open the way it is supposed to be.
“I am excited on both sides and I hope we can let the fans enjoy some great golf.”